The U.S. Forest Service is mobilizing four Department of Defense C-130s equipped with Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems (MAFFS) to assist with wildfire suppression efforts in Colorado and elsewhere in the Rocky Mountains and the Southwest.
MAFFS are portable fire retardant delivery systems that can be inserted into military C-130 aircraft to convert them into large airtankers when needed. Military C-130s equipped with MAFFS can drop up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant on wildfires. They can discharge their entire load in under five seconds or make variable drops.
"We are mobilizing MAFFS to ensure that we continue to have adequate air tanker capability as we experience very challenging wildfire conditions in Colorado and elsewhere in the Rocky Mountain and Southwest regions," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.
Airtankers are used in wildfire suppression to deliver fire retardant to reduce the intensity and slow the growth of wildfires so that firefighters on the ground can construct containment lines safely, which is how wildfires are suppressed. Fire retardant is not typically used to suppress wildfires directly.
Tidwell announced last week that the agency is adding four heavy helicopters to the aviation firefighting fleet.
"The addition of these helicopters to our aviation fleet will increase our ability to respond quickly and aggressively to fight wildfires and protect lives and property," said Tidwell. "We will continue to mobilize our firefighting assets when and where they are needed as we respond to a very challenging wildfire season."